University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications reacts to Virginia shootings

NewsNetNebraska contributors to this report: Nick Gebhart, Jordan Huessers, Reid Hunsaker, Julia Jackson, Carly Jensen, Katy Knight, Jacy Lewis, Jason Lubken, Seth Olson, Gage Peake, Nathan Poppe, Josh Skluzacek, Michael Snow, Jake Sueflohn, Nam Tran, Ashley Wolff 

A tragic episode on live television Wednesday ended in the shooting deaths of two journalists employed by WDBJ-TV, a CBS affiliate in central Virginia. The deadly shootings happened during a live TV interview segment and Virginia authorities confirm that the shooting suspect was a  former employee at the TV station.

Reporter, Alison Parker, 24, and videographer, Adam Ward, 27, were interviewing Vicki Gardner, director of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce in southwest Virginia Wednesday morning when the gunman opened fire during the TV live shot. Parker and Ward died from their gunshots. Gardner was rushed into surgery at Roanoke Memorial Hospital for a gunshot wound to her back. After surgery, a hospital spokesman said Gardner was listed in “stable” condition and expected to make a full recovery. (Click here for the latest updates on Vicki Gardner)

Key locations in Wednesday’s Virginia shootings


The alleged shooter, Vester Flanagan, 41,  went by the on-air name of Bryce Williams before he was fired by WDBJ-TV in 2013. Hours after the shootings, Virginia authorities said Flanagan shot himself after crashing his rented car during a chase involving the Virginia State Police.  Flanagan died a short time later at a Fairfax, Virginia hospital.

ABC News reports that it received a fax from someone claiming to be Bryce Williams today. ABC News said it turned the 23 page long document over to authorities.WDBJ7-TV general manager Jeffrey Marks said Flanagan was a former employee who displayed “anger issues” before his firing two years ago. (Click here for the latest updates on the Virginia shootings) 

University of Nebraska-Lincoln CoJMC students react

News of the tragedy caught the attention of many students who attend the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “This doesn’t sound like they were putting themselves into any sort of, you know, dangerous situation,” said Mike Shoro, senior journalism major. “I think it’s more of an indictment on the country as a whole that you can literally be shot for doing anything.”

Jordan Howard, junior advertising and public relations major, had similar thoughts. “The thing is nowadays, journalists don’t have a lot of people backing them up,” Howard said. “They have their own camera, they set it up themselves,” she said. “They don’t have a lot of protection against things like that and you would never think that that sort of thing would happen.”

Jessica Chamberlain, a freshman broadcast major, said incidents like this hurt the journalism community. “It might not be like a police officer’s  job where your life is on the line, but in a way, it kind of is because people can react to your news stories and information in so many different ways.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism faculty react

CoJMC Faculty Reacts to Virginia Shooting from CoJMC on Vimeo.

Social media reaction to the shootings

The public, political figures and journalists have also been speaking-up on social media, via Twitter, to express concern about issues such as U.S. gun control and gun violence, as well as the state of journalism today.


The shootings also sparked a jump in search engines such as Google for more information connected to the case.

Former U.S. Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke out on gun violence after the shooting, saying it is time for a change.

Political Figures Speak Out on Gun Control following Virigina Shooting.

Political Figures Speak Out on Gun Control following Virigina Shooting

Political figures weren’t the only ones to speak out. Other journalists also talked about the current state of journalism following the horrific shootings.

Other Journalists Speak Out on Gun Shooting

Other Journalists Speak Out on Gun Shooting

Journalists Speak Out on Racism

Journalists Speak Out on Racism

2 Reporters Dead in Virginia

2 Reporters Dead in Virginia

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NewsNetNebraska also produced two live-streaming global broadcasts via Periscope in reaction to Wednesday’s shootings. Recordings of those Periscope broadcasts are found below. 

CoJMC professor Luis Peon-Casanova’s reaction via Periscope

CoJMC professor Rick Alloway’s reaction via Periscope

This morning, a TV anchor and videographer based in Virginia were shot and killed by a supposed former employee

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